Sunday morning

Toni drops Sam and Levi off at the private section of the airport, where they meet Senator Johns and his entourage at a private jet.  Samantha introduces Levi.  So what are your qualifications, Levi?  Combat veteran with a concealed carry permit, sir.  Which sandbox?  Lebanon. He’s a resident alien, Sam says, and then breaks out laughing.  I’ve always wanted to use that line.  Everyone smiles at her.  Are you still in the service of your home country in any way?  One of the Senator’s advisors asks Levi.  Yes.  I’m on the inactive reserve list, like all Israeli nationals.  If something kicks off, I’m on the first plane over there. Senator Johns nods his approval.

How did Lana find you?  Through Samantha.  They spent all day Saturday together; he outshot Lana at a Glock event, Sam exclaims.  Everyone looks at Levi, who says nothing.  He’s been moody ever since.  She sang for him, and he cannot find the song.  Bettina told me where to find it, Sam says grinning at him.  I don’t believe you, Levi says.  I want this new Glock 48, Lana specs.  Sam declares.  Alright.  Levi says. The Senator watches as Sam pulls out her phone, finds the United Pursuit song, and hands it to Levi.  He looks at the screen and hands it back to her.  Play it for us, Raj requests.  You do, and you forfeit the gun, Levi threatens. That’s not what we agreed to. I’ll need a Desantis calfskin holster for nondisclosure.  Levi gives her a look, and Sam stares back at him.  Alright.  Sorry Raj, Sam says shrugging at him.

How did she get him to like her in such a short time?  A new hire whispers jealously to Raj a minute later, when they return to their seats for takeoff.   Raj shrugs, and Lindsey goes back to reading the feature article of People magazine: The Talented Ms. Radley.

***

Lana is waiting in the foyer of the apartment building when Tom pulls up to the curb in his Highlander.  She quickly walks out to get in the shotgun seat.  Good morning, Lana.  Good morning, sir.  He gives her a look.  Tom. Tom, she repeats. Bettina told me that you had a hot date yesterday.  Yes, I got to try out the new Glock 48. Well?   I liked it.  And Levi? That’s his name, right?  Yes.  I think he’ll be a good hire.  I heard you gave him a neck rub and sang to him.  Lana gives Tom a look.  It’s not like we were alone.   I needed the others to think that we were together.  You’re not worried about him falling for you?  He’s a smart guy; he knew what I was doing.  Bettina says that he’s a Hebrew of the Hebrews.  So am I, Lana says.  Really?  My spiritual genealogy is Lana, daughter of Sarah, daughter of Eve, daughter of God. That’s beautiful, Lana.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put quite like that before.  They drive in silence the rest of the way to Sardis.

***

You have a lovely voice, Lana.  Tom tells her when they get back into the Highlander after the service.  Thank you, Lana replies softly.  Olive Garden? Yes, please.  You can adopt me, she tells him, and they both chuckle.  So Simon and Bettina…when should I be expecting him to ask me?  Have you noticed Emilie’s hands?  Lana replies. No.  They’re very similar to Bettina’s.  I saw Simon eyeing them at the dinner table the last time we were together.  I suspect, Tom, that he’ll pick up the diamond while he’s over in Israel, and then have it set over here, using Emilie to size the ring.  But I could be way off.  Do you think he’ll come to me alone, or with Bettina, having already proposed? Of course he’s going to ask your permission beforehand.  Tom doesn’t say anything.  Wait a minute.  Is that what you did?  Tom, did you and your wife just announce your engagement to her parents?  I’ve always regretted that, Tom admits.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to ask her father. What if he had said no?  Lana pats his hand.  My lips are sealed, sir.

Let’s change the subject, Tom announces.  What are your thoughts on Israel?  Doomed outpost of freedom and democracy in the Middle East.  You don’t believe that God has a special plan for His chosen people?  Lana looks at him.  I don’t buy into Christian Zionism.  I’m not a dispensationalist, Tom.  So what do you believe, Lana?  I’d rather not say, Tom.  I don’t want to sow discord.

I can handle it, he replies.  I know you can, but I don’t want it repeated to Simon and Bettina.  My lips are sealed, Lana.  She sighs. My understanding, Tom, is that the Bible teaches supersessionism.  I believe the pejorative term is replacement theology.  Are you familiar?  Yes, he says. They drive in silence for awhile.

When are you going to get engaged, Lana?  I don’t have any prospects, Tom.  Oh, really?  Bettina said that Samantha told her that this Levi really likes you. He’s going to want to be more than coworkers.  I really like him too, Tom, but I’m only allowed to marry in the Lord.

You’re going to be spending a lot of time together, Tom comments.  Look at the change Bettina made in Simon.  Point well made, Lana admits.  I’ll play it out for you, Tom, and you’re welcome to smoke check my thinking. I know that Levi is a strong decent loyal man.  We live by the same moral code and I respect him.  Maybe I should allow myself to fall in love with him and hope that I could win him to Christ before we tie the knot.   That’s what would happen, Lana.  Tom says nodding.  Tom, I’m using Hegelian logic.  Synthesis plus antithesis gives the dialectic.  I just gave you the synthesis.  Tom grunts as he parks the Highland at the Olive Garden.

They go to their table.  Alright, continue, Tom says.  Lana sighs.  I don’t share your optimism, Tom.  I believe that the opposite is more likely to happen.  That raising our children would get him more into rabbinic Judaism, and that he’d eventually divorce me, citing Ezra 10.  What happened in Ezra 10?  The mass putting away of the heathen wives by the Jews after the Babylonian captivity. I don’t remember the story.

The Cliff Notes version is that Ezra the scribe was a great man of God, but he listened to bad counsel and erred in his zeal.  He made the men covenant to put away their heathen wives and children.  This was wrong, then as now.   God hates divorce.  Marriage is until death, period.  They just compounded one sin with another.

They order their food.  So where does this leave Levi?  Ineligible.  I cannot go there, Tom.  So why are you letting him get close to you then?  I need the help; Tim and I were getting worn down.

So what about Tim?  I think he’d do anything for you.  I love Tim, Lana admits.  He’s the big brother that I’ve always wanted.  So why don’t you make it something more?  Tom, I will not marry a divorced man.  That’s adultery.  Not necessarily, Tom replies.  If… Lana cuts him off.  Stop right there, Lana says icily.  There are still seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.  I’ll chose one of them for a husband.

***

You’re going to want to listen to this, sir. One of Saul’s men says.  There’s two clips of Lana Radley talking to Tom Andrews about Levi.  Saul puts on his headphones and turns on the closed captioning, and listens to the MP3 recording.  Where’s the rest?  He demands. We only have the SUV bugged, sir; we didn’t have anyone onsite.  There is another recording after the lunch, but the conversation is desultory, the jist being that Andrews wants Lana to set up a golf match for him with her partner, Rolf Asgaard.  Do you want me to send a team, sir?  Saul thinks about this.  Yes.  He studies the man.  The sound quality is excellent.  This is good product.  Well done.  The man beams at the praise.  Saul gestures for him to leave.  He listens to both MP3 recordings again, and then sends them as an attachment in an email to Sam:

Samantha,

I’ll leave it up to your discretion whether to share with Levi or not.  I would have liked to have heard her antithesis.  See what you can find out.

Love,

Uncle Saul.

Sam gets the email on her Iphone when she wakes up from her nap – as the wheels come down as the jet makes its final descent. She puts her earbuds in and listens to the MP3 recordings.  Absorb, she tells Levi, and hands him her phone with its earbuds, then heads down the gangway where Bettina gives her a big hug.  This is going to be so much fun, Bettina enthuses.  Sam goes over to Tim and offers her hand.  Hi, I’m Sam.  Tim. Senator Johns comes down the ladder and joins them.  I see you’ve met.  Well, give the Jew girl some toys, Sam entones eagerly.  Raj cracks up with laughter.  The Senator chuckles while shaking his head no.  That cannot be your call sign, Samantha.  She drops her head and makes a pouty expression.  I thought we had one more?  Tim says, looking at Bettina.  You’ll like him, Tim.  Bettina promises.  He’s listening to the song that Lana sang for him, Lindsey announces.  Nuff said, Tim replies, nodding.  We’ll wait.  I’m going to like you, Sam declares.

How about Sambo?  She says suddenly, looking at PJ with her eyebrows raised.  Raj breaks down laughing again.  SAM!  Bettina exclaims.  Sam it is, Tim says.  I suppose you have some amazing call sign like Warlock.  Raj starts breathing in heaves.  Call me – Tim pauses for effect – Ishmael.  Sam and Bettina exchange glances.  So I’m Captain Ahab, and the Presidency is the white whale, Senator Johns notes wryly, looking at Tim. Wow. I’m impressed.  Bettina tells Tim.  And great catch, sir.  That went right over my head, Bettina tells PJ.

Levi comes down the gangway.  Bettina goes over and latches on to his elbow.  Hello again, good sir.  Hello, Bettina.  I want you to meet someone.  She leads him up to Tim.  Tim, this is my friend, Levi.  Glad to have you onboard, Tim says as they shake hands.  The Senator grins at Tim.

***

I want to hear all about your adventure with Lana, Bettina tells Levi, as everyone sits down to dinner at The Olive Garden.  Nothing much to tell, Bettina.  She picked me up at 0430, we drove three hours to a really nice shooting facility, spent the day there, then drove back.  So what did you learn about Lana? The Senator asks.  She likes to read.  We listened to a Grisham novel there and back.  Which one?  A staffer asks.  Playing for Pizza.  Great story, I really enjoyed it.  So you outshot Lana?  Raj asks. It wasn’t a competition.  Years ago, when I got out of the Israeli army, I tried out for Mossad.  The shooting quals were a twenty five yard headshot under time pressure.  I failed.  But failure is an event, not a person.  I’ve worked on my handgun skills since.  How could Lana improve?  Bettina asks. I shoot with an Isosceles grip, which is a friction hold that locks the gun like a vise. She shoots with a Weaver grip, which uses push pull tension. How do you shoot?  Raj asks Sam.  Gangsta. Pow-pow, Sam says, motioning with her hand over her head.  Everyone laughs.

I’ve got a question for you, Bettina.  Shoot, she tells Levi.  What is Christian Zionism?  Not what I expected, she says, and takes a sip of her water.  I believe that God has a special plan for Israel, and will bless America as a nation if we help your people, and will curse us if we don’t.  My boyfriend is over there right now, she tells everyone.  I told him to take lots of pictures.

What’s your take on replacement theology?  Sam asks.  It’s been the basis for much of the evil done to the Jewish people by Christians over the centuries.  I’m sorry for that, Sam.  Where do you stand, Senator?  Levi asks. Setting aside the religiousity, America and Israel share a fraternal bond as tolerant democratic representative governments.  We each have our own national interests, and more often than not, they’re aligned.

Everyone orders.  How did I do?  The Senator asks Samantha.  Pretty good actually.  You didn’t raise my hackles and my BS detector didn’t get set off.  Raj laughs again.  When is your movie coming out? he asks Samantha.  Assuming Lana doesn’t kill any more people – Sam pauses as everyone laughs.  Not that they’ll listen to me, but I told the studio guys to release it just before Christmas.  Everyone laughs.  It’s a holiday!  Sam protests. All the students will be out of school. That gives it a good two week run. There needs to be an alternative to all the romcoms and heist movies.  You want to release a horror movie at Christmas?  Senator Johns exclaims with his hands in the air and howls with laughter.  The only horror is my acting, Sam declares.  Other diners look over at the raucous laughter coming from their section.

***

I let Levi listen to the recordings, Uncle. And?  He asked Bettina what is Christian Zionism.  She’s such a sweetheart, Sam sighs.  Then I asked her what’s her take on replacement theology, and she actually apologized to me.  You can tell she loathes it.  Then Levi asked Senator Johns where he stood.  He’s sharp, uncle.  He didn’t duck it, but he didn’t hide that he’s America First either.  What did he say?  Setting aside the religiousity - then something about fraternal tolerant democracies with national interests that were mostly aligned.  It was a good answer.  The cool thing, uncle, is that he asked me how he did with his response - right in front of everyone.

If Bettina calls Lana and this comes up, she’ll put two and two together, Samantha.  You’re overthinking it, uncle.  Lana goes to bed early, and she’s two hours ahead of us.  I don’t see Bettina calling her tonight and we’ll be in campaign mode tomorrow.  Now, will you help Simon find a diamond?  If he asks, I’d be glad to.  I’ll call him, Sam replies.  Can I give him your number, or do you want him to go through me?  Saul thinks about this.  Go through Jon.  Have Jon make the offer of my assistance, and be the go-between.  I’ll get right on it, Sam replies.  Thanks for sending me those audio files, uncle.  I love listening in on Lana; she is such a cipher.  Oh, Levi told a really good story at dinner.  Did you know he tried out for the Mossad? Yes.  And the test was rigged for him to fail, Samantha.  He hears her draw in a deep breath.  Did you ever tell him?  Of course not.

***

How was church with daddy?  Bettina asks, as she’s alone on the elliptical machine in the hotel’s fitness room early the next morning.  I told him that he could adopt me as his daughter, Lana replies.  Bettina laughs.  How was the guest pastor?  A seminarian.  I tuned out when he went back to the Greek.  Why?  Because the subtext is that I need to be a Greek scholar in order to properly understand God’s Word that’s been translated into my native tongue.  Did you talk to daddy about it?  No, I didn’t want to be negative.  I’m telling you just to get it off my chest.  Now, how did Tim get along with Sam and Levi?  No problems.  Raj cannot stop laughing at Sam’s jokes though.  She’s pushing the envelope, Lana.  Talk to her then, Bettina.  I’m not going to embarrass her in front of everyone.  I’m not saying you should call her out, but take her aside.  Bettina sighs.  I’m not good at confrontation.  But get this Lana, we were eating dinner last night, and Levi asked me what is Christian Zionism, and then Sam followed up with what I thought about replacement theology.  I think they’re both searching for the truth.  Lana doesn’t say anything.  Lana? Did I lose you?  No.  Lana sighs. I love you.  I need to go.  I love you too, Lana.  Bye. Bettina shuts off her phone and finishes her workout with her eyes closed, as she prays silently for Sam and Levi.